A&M season ends with Cotton

What a difference a year makes. In vintage, and now heralded, Franchione turnaround fashion, the Aggies put together one of the best comeback seasons in the nation. The Aggies next test: the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day Bowl against the University of Tennessee.

After head coach Dennis Franchione's disappointing 4-8 2003 debut season at Texas A&M, fans' fortitude was tested and players' heart and mettle were challenged. The Aggies finished fifth in the Big 12 South, and Aggieland was collectively ready to put the forgettable season in the past and start anew.

When Texas A&M Head Coach Dennis Franchione spoke to the media about his young Aggie team last March during spring drills, he talked of anticipation and intensity: "They're hungry to play," Franchione said. "And some of them are talented enough that we know they're going to play." He was correct on all accounts.

Enter 2004.

What a difference a year makes. In vintage, and now heralded, Franchione turnaround fashion, the Aggies put together one of the best comeback seasons in the nation. Texas A&M, while playing the NCAA's toughest schedule, compiled an overall record of 7-4 – losing only to 3 BCS teams (Utah, Oklahoma, and Texas), and dropping a shocker to Baylor. The Aggies next test: the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day Bowl against the University of Tennessee.

Speaking of his team's impressive return to competitiveness and the turnaround season, Franchione said, "Number one, we became a team. We learned how to be a team and play together and play with each other. We put our personal agendas aside and put the team first. The second year is so much easier for the coaching staff and players. We understand their abilities. They understand our expectations. Year two is just much smoother."

One of the main storylines this season was the redshirt freshmen and underclassmen. "We tell all of our freshmen to come to play. If they're ready to play, we want them to play," Franchione said. "Fortunately for us, we've been able to redshirt a lot of kids the past two years. What it is doing is giving us a chance to build a program. We want to build one that can perpetuate success. This has given us a foundation…. We're building this thing from the bottom up. We've had to take a junior college player or two."

"We've had a special season in a lot of ways. This is a great place to be to finish this season. Hopefully, it will be something that will springboard us into next year," Franchione said Thursday.

The excitement surrounding post-season play has returned to Aggieland. The future is bright for Texas A&M football, and it all begins Saturday in Dallas at the familiar confines of the Cotton Bowl.


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